The village of Adierat is hidden within the desert hills of southern Hebron and if you blink too soon there is a distinct possibility you might just miss it. Our journey last week took us to three distinct villages in the south, but for the sake of time, I will focus here on the one that left the greatest impression.
When you first step foot in Adierat village it almost appears to be a ghost town, that is until people notice that two foreigners are moving about – and then the whole town seems to appear as if out of no where. Within seconds of walking no more than 10 feet, Willow and I were whisked inside of a tiny little room, promptly given 2 chairs in which to sit along with a cup of deliciously hot tea, and before we could say shukran, we were surrounded by nearly the entire village starring at us with a hungry curiosity. Everyone had come to see who these strange foreigners were and to quell their curiosity, we attempted conversation in our broken Arabic. Fortunate for us, we had some success. We managed to learn about some of the biggest challenges facing the people of this quiet, secluded village as well as some of the larger, underlying issues facing the surrounding communities. This blog is dedicated to their story.
As Willow and I sat grasping steaming hot shaee in our hands, we listened to each of the women explain how their village functions on a daily basis without running water or electricity. The main source of income for the village (which can be likened to a large, extended family) is provided by livestock. Livestock also happens to be the main source of livelihood for the surrounding farming communities. The communities might be able to have a shot at cultivating the land and use agriculture as an alternate (or perhaps additional) source of income, except then you run into one of the biggest challenges – water. As I mentioned, Adierat village functions without running water. They have a small well which a natural reservoir feeds into providing them with drinking water. The well alone, however, is not enough to sustain the village. Therefore, they are forced to purchase water for bathing and to hydrate their livestock.
With only one school in the village, education is one of the many things that falls to the wayside here. And without education, it is difficult to develop the skills necessary to stand up and fight for the essential right to satisfy basic human needs such as food, shelter and water. Part of the reason that water is in such short supply is because water is often redirected to nearby [illegal] Israeli settlements that make up a small percent of the local population, but consume a lions share of the water. These Israeli settlements are being systematically and strategically placed all over Palestinian land.
A basic theme in the field of conflict resolution is identifying the root causes of the problem in order to facilitate an effective solution. But what is one to do when the problem is inherently systemic? John Burton’s theory of structural violence argues that so long as “damaging deprivations,” which are avoidable, are caused by the “nature of social institutions and policies,” violence will prevail in a systematic way. In other words, violence becomes institutionalized and is inherently perpetuated by the very same system that identifies the oppression which results from this violence.
The Israeli settlements are avoidable, in fact, they are illegal. And as long as they continue to be built, they will continue to contribute to the structural violence that is being perpetuated on a daily basis against the Palestinian people. Water is only one of the many issues that the implementation of illegal settlements brings. This is not meant to divert the story toward one of blame, but rather to highlight the harsh facts that often make up reality here in the West Bank. I will never forget my experience with the people of Adierat village, and after reading this, hopefully you will not easily forget their story either.
Posted By Rangineh Azimzadeh
Posted Jun 30th, 2009